Story Themes & Writing What You Read

“A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.” ~ Caroline Gordon

As a kid, my reading choices always held magic or some supernatural element. Then there


was a time in my life when I only read classics, and come to think of it, some of those had a supernatural or magical twist too – Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, In a Glass Darkly, even Wuthering Heights  –  and now I’m reading mostly magical books categorized as YA . (I’ll read more grown-up books soon, I promise). And this is why I don’t think I could write a book of any other kind. At least not any time soon.

My Work In Progress is a story that I think I would have wanted to read when I was a kid, and maybe even one that I would want to read now, since I seem to be rather addicted to YA Fantasy Fiction. I wrote a story with magic and monsters, demons and witches, but it’s also about the choice between embracing or rejecting who we’ve become as a person. It’s a story of identity and fear.

Fear of who or what we are. This is a recurring theme in a lot of fiction. Why? Maybe it’s because we’re all a little bit afraid of who we are underneath. Can we ever really know what we would do, if forced to make the dramatic choices featured in so many stories? Underneath all the posturing, the rhetoric, the words, the thoughts, when it comes down to it, are we as righteous as we think we are? Would we make the right choice and for the right reasons? We can imagine that we would, but what if something just snapped, and our only instinct was for survival? What if something that had been boiling beneath our skin our whole lives, unseen and unheard, came alive in that moment, and we realized, maybe a small part of us hoped to be pushed over the edge, to have an excuse to be something less than human.

Or maybe that’s just it. Maybe there’s nothing honourable in being human. After all, as a species, we do seem to have a ridiculous, murderous need to drive us all in to extinction. It’s human nature, so they say.

And I believe it’s this paradox that drives many a story, including my own. Dread of the “monster” inside. Fear that we’re something less than human; fear that we’re nothing more. My favourite stories tend to explore the theme of fear and identity, and so it makes sense that I would be compelled to explore it in my own.

Do you find you gravitate toward stories with certain themes? Does this influence your own writing?


About sharonholly

writer, reader, music-lover, glamorous facilitator of literacy...
This entry was posted in Points of Light & Everyday Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Story Themes & Writing What You Read

  1. Novel Girl says:

    I think I love to read stories that tell me something about courage.


  2. sharonholly says:

    Yes. I think the theme of fear and identity is essentially about courage. Whether it’s about having the courage to accept who we are, or having the courage to change it, it always comes down to courage.

    Thanks for checking out my blog 🙂


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